Fans at a Ukrainian league match between Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and Dynamo Kiev were left stunned when Dynamo captain Oleg Gusev’s life was left in the balance, after the midfielder swallowed his tongue having been knocked unconscious.
But in a heroic and quick-thinking act, Dnipro midfielder Jaba Kankava recognised the danger after Gusev caught an accidental knee to the head, immediately rushing to his side and clearing his airway – unquestionably saving the Ukrainian international’s life.
Seconds later, Gusev was seen to regain consciousness as he jolted up, kicking and writhing before calming down as other players and medical staff rushed to his aid. The crowd, left stunned in silence by the sickening collision, burst into applause for Gusev as he attempted to regain his standing, before being stretchered off the field.
Gusev was later seen on the touchline and appeared to have recovered, although the club have not yet given an update of his condition. Considering the severity of the accident though, he can count himself lucky if he escapes with a slight concussion and a sore head.
The incident was reminiscent of the collision between Chelsea captain John Terry and Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby in the 2007 League Cup final, when an accidental stray boot from the Frenchman caught Terry flush in the head, knocking him out cold and causing the defender to swallow his tongue.
Recognising the emergency, Arsenal physio Gary Lewin rushed onto the pitch to rescue the England international, with both sets of players instantly putting aside their fierce rivalry to come to the aid of the stricken centre-back. Terry’s airway was quickly cleared and he made a full recovery – again with a sore head.
Lewin had previously been involved in another similar incident back in 1989, when he almost had to break David Rocastle’s jaw in order to perform life-saving treatment on the midfielder after he suffered a similar injury.